Two universities partner together to provide a robust, seamless program for nurses to complete their educations. While a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is becoming the new “normal” for registered nurses (RNs), a path to earn an advanced degree is becoming increasingly important. Students can achieve both of these educational goals with the two-university partnership, starting with the University of Main at Fort Kent (UMFK) online RN to BSN program. Then, BSN-prepared nurses complete their MS in Nursing degree at The University of Southern Maine (USM) with six fewer credits through one of USM’s two RN to MS in Nursing programs in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration/Leadership.

Both programs incorporate evidence-based practice (EBP) as a core foundation for improving patient outcomes. Not only is EBP critical for patient care and population health and essential for building nurse resilience, but EBP practice guidelines also help nurses stay updated with research, information, healthcare trends and changes. Another goal is to reduce burnout and improve the clinical experiences of nurses using EBP intervention to enhance resilience.

What Are the Three Components of EBP?

EBP is a life-long problem-solving approach in healthcare that integrates a three-pronged system leveraging current evidence, clinical expertise and patient values and preferences.

EBP = Best Research Evidence + Clinical Expertise + Patient Input

Best Research Evidence. The best available research comes from leading peer-review journals and clinically relevant publications. In addition, since healthcare is constantly changing, nurses can explore unpublished abstract posters, podium presentations or best practice information. For example, ginger is often an effective intervention for nausea, yet no extensive, well-designed randomized control studies or meta-analyses exist. BSN and MS in Nursing degrees help nurses learn effective strategies for finding, evaluating and disseminating research.

Clinical Expertise. Clinical expertise refers to education, experience and skills. Clinical nursing experience and academic education help nurses make informed patient-care decisions. Further nursing education, starting with a BSN degree, can prepare professionals to better evaluate guidelines and critically appraise recommendations.

Patient Input. EBP aims to individualize patient care by incorporating their personal preferences and values. Nurses must assess patient perceptions, barriers and overall expectations. Exploring cultural or ethnic considerations, health literacy levels and gender inclusivity encourage personalized care — another critical component to a BSN curriculum.

What Are Examples of Evidence-Based Practice?

There are numerous examples of EBP to improve population health, patient outcomes and nurse resilience to prevent burnout. For example, mindfulness-based interventions can enhance the psychological well-being of nurses and patients. These two examples demonstrate the power of nursing interventions in improving patient outcomes.

Population Health Example. One article in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (JAANP) proves how EBP increased influenza (flu) vaccinations by 597%. Nurse practitioners were concerned about the low flu vaccination rate (4-15%) at a southeast Florida clinic for their uninsured patients. Even though the vaccine was free, vaccination rates were far below the national recommendation of 70%.

Through the EBP process, they first searched the literature, assessed barriers and patient concerns and explored workflow patterns and communication efforts. For example, common reasons for patient refusal of the vaccine were fear of side effects or contracting the virus. Then, they bundled their interventions to include mass communication, leadership, improved workflow and improved access. As a result, they raised their flu immunization rate to 39%, exceeding rates for the state of Florida (31.9%).

Inpatient Care Example. A team of inpatient surgical oncology nurses at a large NCI-designated cancer center looked for a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive intervention to prevent post-operative ileus (POI). A POI after abdominal surgery for patients with cancer can occur in up to one-third of patients, leading to significant pain and suffering. In addition, the cost of one episode can be up to $15,000.

Their literature search found that gum chewing decreased the time to first bowel movement by 12.7 hours and the length of hospital stay by 0.7 days. As a result, they obtained orders to “may chew gum” and a patient education packet. Patients who participated in this nurse-led gum chewing study received regular or sugar-free gum from the nurses. The rate of POI in their pilot of gum chewers was almost half compared to no gum chewing (6.8% vs. 11.8%). This simple, cost-effective EBP intervention can reduce POI, reduce costs and alleviate the patient’s pain and suffering.

EBP empowers nurses to be change agents to transform healthcare. By using evidence-based or clinical practice guidelines and understanding different levels of evidence, nurses can ensure that patients receive the best possible care. A clear path for nurses to advance their education — first through an RN to BSN program — helps nurses pursue an advanced degree, fast-track their careers and meet the changing face of healthcare.

Learn more about the University of Maine Fort Kent’s online RN to BSN program.